Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Back to where we started . . .

On 22 August, 2012 I took a foot selfie.  Fractured fibula, six weeks in plaster - all good.

On 28 September, 2012, the plaster came off and I took this foot selfie when I got into the car outside the physiotherapists.

Nothing from inside that plaster that a good loofah and a slather of moisturiser won't fix.

Today - 3 December, 2013

After struggling for almost sixteen months with pain and swelling, I had an appointment with an ankle specialist last week.  Today I've had an MRI and been fitted with this fabulous device called an aircast or moonboot.  The specialist is of the opinion that I have torn peroneal tendons in my ankle, which would have occurred the night I fell down and snapped the fibula.  This is yet to be confirmed by the MRI, and I won't know for sure for another week and a half.  In the meantime, it's now summer and this is a very tightly fitted piece of plastic.  Which I may need to wear for three months . . . i.e. till the end of summer.  Happy days.

Monday, October 28, 2013

About stuff . . . .

We survived our 'catastrophic' Wednesday, when the winds howled hot and angry from the northwest, bringing the fire at Bilpin to about 13 kms from here.

"How far is it to Bilpin?"

"About 20 kms, if you drive along Bells Line of Road."

"Do fires drive along the road?"

We were showered with burnt gumtree leaves, talking on the phone on the back verandah, one fluttered down beside my foot and I picked it up.  It was still warm from the fire.

Wednesday's smoke travelled south (to the left)

On 'not so catastrophic' Thursday, the wind turned around and howled cool and snarly from the southwest.  The smoke that was travelling south on Wednesday, travelled north on Thursday.  I figured the fire was on a zig zag course for Kurrajong.

Thursday's smoke travelled north (to the right)

On Friday, it was as still as could possibly be.  Almost all day.  The smoke was tired from travelling first south, then north, and decided to settle down for a nice long rest.  Over Kurrajong.  Cough, cough, cough.  Even the dogs were sneezing.  You could scarcely see the neighbours' houses.

Since then, the weather has calmed considerably and we've relaxed somewhat.  Water bombing aeroplanes and helicopters continue to fly over daily, but we hardly look up at them anymore.

Logically thinking, I couldn't see how a fire was going to reach us here.  We are surrounded by other houses and relatively open country.  Our house isn't nestled in the bush like the houses at Springwood and Winmalee.  But I couldn't shake the thought that, well, what if . . .

So I did pack a large box of photo albums and a small box of 'treasures' including jewellery, thumb drives of irreplaceable information and our passports (although Mike's expired almost a year ago - he's obviously not planning any travel anytime soon!)

Mike saw the stuff sitting in the hallway by the front door and insisted he needed to add some stuff as well.  Out came a handful of files - all to do with his cars!!  If the worst case scenario had occurred, we'd have saved the paperwork - but not the cars themselves!

Anyway, on this day of strange limbo living, I got to thinking about the things I have - the stuff.  I did a walk around of the house and mentally noted all the stuff that I would indeed want to save in the event of an oncoming fire.

In the sewing room, instantly I see my sewing machines.  That's plural.  How could I leave them?  On the quilting frame is a quilt that I've almost finished quilting for a dear friend of mine.  How could I leave that?

Then there's my stash!  Gulp!  Both of fabric and knitting yarns . . . .

In the next room, lying on the bed, is a quilt top that I've been making for years for my son and daughter in law.  It started with a piece of fabric that they bought on the trip to New York.  It has thousands of little pieces of fabric that I have stitched together and it means a lot to me.  How could I leave that?

In the hall is a cupboard of things, a conglomeration of ornaments, vases, school craft creations and antique things, all with significance attached.  In the top is the hat that my Dad wore whilst mowing the lawn the day or so before he died.  How could I leave that?

In the next room, in the top of the wardrobe, are boxes of memories.  First baby shoes, paintings from school, ballet costumes, my wedding dress from a million years ago (no, I'd leave that).

In the next room is a trunk that belonged to my mum.  It contains some of her belongings.  In the wardrobe is a box containing the wedding dress I made for my daughter in law a few years ago.

In the kitchen, there's my coffee machine, my KitchenAid mixer and my AGA stove.  All replaceable, but I love them.  Among the knick knacks is the little teapot that my Mum got from her family for her twenty-first birthday.  It has been broken and glued quite a number of times, but she treasured it.  On the wall is a weather house.  Is that what you call it?  Where the girl in her sun bonnet comes out of the house if the weather is fine and the man in the raincoat comes out if the weather is wet.  It was a wedding present of my Mum and Dad's when they were married in 1948.  How could I leave that?

I've come to the conclusion that I would need a semi-trailer and at least three days notice if I was really required to evacuate my treasured belongings.

And yet, I see on the television the people who have indeed lost everything.  Notwithstanding the shock and the sadness of losing all their possessions, often the comment is made "but we're all safe, that's what really matters, the rest of it was just stuff . . . ."

What would you choose?  Could you quickly decide what items you would save of your 'stuff'?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ominous . . .

Last Thursday we had hot gale force winds blowing from the northwest.  Great bushfire weather, hot strong winds, low humidity, tinder dry bush.  To our southwest, I watched the smoke of a fire at Springwood and Winmalee which ended up devouring over 200 homes. 

There was also a bushfire near Lithgow.  A column of smoke towered over us and stretched across to the city.

The sunset that evening had a red glow.

The fire has travelled closer to us, and is now impacting people as close as Bilpin.

This morning, we have total calm.

And much smoke.

The weather people are predicting that the wind will again pick up today and that tomorrow and more so Wednesday will bring weather that is described as 'catastrophic' with regard to the spread of the fire.

It feels like the calm before the storm.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It's the last day of winter . . . .

. . . . and the thermometer on the wall of the family room says it's 28.9 degrees Celsius outside.  That's like 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Blue Mountains are on fire.

Taken from outside our front door.

This is hazard reduction burning.  Fortunately it hasn't been windy, so hopefully the firefighters have everything under control.  However, I'm hearing Bush Fire Brigade trucks with sirens blaring more and more frequently roaring past on Comleroy Road.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads tomorrow.  Wish my dad was here so that I could plant a kiss on his long remembered forehead.  Love you, Dad.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Swallow this . . . .

There is a gap between the rafters of the back verandah and the iron on the roof.  A little gap of about two inches or so - just enough room for a swallow to roost during the night.  And we have had a pair of these fearless birds doing just that for as long as we've lived here.

At about this time each year, up until now, they have proceeded to build themselves a mud nest under the verandah.  Unfortunately, during the last year, some maintenance work under the verandah resulted in the little ledge that they built on being removed.

A week or so ago, I noticed that they had started building their nest up under the roof of the verandah in the aforementioned little gap where they normally sleep.  No, no, I said, much too messy, thank you very much and proceeded to knock down the beginnings of that nest.  I must mention here that some of my early memories of life on the farm at Mizpah are of the swallows trying to build their nests under the roof of the verandah there and of us kids pleading with Dad not to knock the nests down!  Poor little birds, we thought, but of course we were only kids and not responsible for cleaning up the mess these little homemakers make.

My ingenuity kicked in and with great dexterity and a bit of help from the broom, I filled the gaps with pieces of rolled up bubble wrap that I had collected for some reason but probably not this one.

Then I retired to the house and congratulated myself on solving that pesky issue.

Within a day, they had started again a little further down the rafter timber.  This time on the steel anchor hook where you hang a hammock.  I've never been able to comfortably hang my hammock there, because swallows are flying above you all the time yelling at you to get lost.  Once again, I said sorry chaps, go someplace else to make your mess.  I thought a little extra disincentive was called for and once again my ingenuity came to the rescue in the shape of the window cleaner.  It has an adjustable pole, I was able to extend the length to what I needed, and it was close at hand in the laundry.  I should be using it for it's intended purpose - it's almost spring cleaning time.

I'll show you swallows who's boss around here!  Very precariously the window cleaner was balanced between the closest outside light and the steel anchor hook thing.

Cop that, you feathered fiends!

So . . . .  (wait for it!)  . . . .

. . . . they've built their nest on it!

I've quit.

The Welcome Swallow, Hirundo neoxena, . . . . . I don't think so!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sometimes . . . .

. . . . you don't get quite what you paid for.

I thought a patch of yellow freesias on the driveway wall would be nice.  The packet definitely said they were yellow.

. . . . you get more than you paid for.

Jean Galbraith.  An Australian bred rose in the best English Rose tradition.  A sport of David Austin's Abraham Darby.  More lemon than Abraham's apricot, but with the same exquisite perfume.

. . . . you have to stick to your guns.

For ages, I've wanted the Leylandii removed from the garden bed straight outside the front door.  It was a neat little Christmas tree when we moved here, yesterday my son in law, who doesn't need a lot of encouragement to chainsaw down a tree, came and despite Mike's misgivings, the tree is no more.  And the hallway inside the front door is no longer like a dark cave.  And Mr Lincoln will now get a decent amount of sunshine each day.

And we have the makings of next winter's woodpile.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I wish I could describe how windy it is here today.

Does this give you an idea?

The casuarinas bending over sideways in an effort to throw as many needles into the pool.

The pepper tree doing the same.

The was one of Mum's pot plants.  We called it 'the family aspidistra'.  Where Mum had it at the retirement village was in a totally shaded, protected spot and it was beautifully dark green and glossy leaved.  Here it gets the sun, probably too much sun and the full force of the wind, particularly on a day like today.  It has blown completely off it's wheelie thing and I will struggle to get it back on again.

I've been sheltering in the sewing room, doing stuff, and looked up just in time to see this happen outside.  Luckily it fell away from the fence.

This morning, the two dogs were picked up at 7.30am for a half day at the spa.  I actually thought they would be there all day, given the ratty, knotty hairdo's they've been sporting lately.  But the super efficient lady said they would be back by 1pm and they were, right on the dot.

Don't think Merlin appreciates his haircut.  He came back in very grumpily.

Try as I might, I cannot get a photo of these two dogs sitting up side by side.  This is about as close as I could get.

So I'm sewing today, and listening to the walls shuddering against the wind.  I figure nothing catastrophic is going to happen, given that Ewan McGregor is in there, snoring his head off beneath the rattling window.

Posting this while the power is still on.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

At about this time every year . . .

In two days time, it is my birthday and I turn 60.  Who allowed that to happen?  Sigh . . .

Here it is, almost mid winter and we are yet to even look like rustling up a decent first frost.  One morning perhaps a week and a half ago, there was a slight tinge of white way down the back near the dam, but nothing around the house.  Shame, as Dave next door, the source of knowledge of all things citrus, says we cannot pick our mandarins off the tree until they have had a good dose of frost which apparently sweetens them.

The string you see in the photo is part of an elaborate systems of lines and pulleys which  I have patented and the design of which shall remain a secret, suffice to say that when the little bell on the wall of the parlour rings, I know that the white cockatoos have landed.

That's rubbish, there is a large piece of plastic hanging on that line, or maybe not by the look of the empty pegs (the cockatoos have probably stolen it), but it is there to deter the white marauders who, if left undisturbed, can completely strip the tree of every piece of fruit.  They don't eat the fruit, mind you, they just tear it open with their evil beaks and eat just the seeds inside.  The fruit is left in all it's juicy winter goodness on the ground.  We have a flock of the white rascals which live permanently in this area and can be heard screeching somewhere around at any given time of the day.

In the garden, the jonquils are out.

In previous years, most of these came up underneath a solid layer of lavenders.  I dug most of the lavenders out this year and the jonquils are thanking me for it.  I've resisted picking them for the vase, their perfume is so gorgeous in the still cool air outside the front door.  The violets obviously love this time of the year as well.

Just in the foreground from the jonquils is the rose I think is Mr Lincoln.  He has three large and luscious blooms at the moment, which are also adding to the sweet perfume.

DA Graham Thomas continues to get the odd bloom - this fuzzy one looks interesting, perhaps it's a sport that I can register.

One job I did manage to achieve was rescuing the last of the snowdrops from the overground snake bed to the west of the house.  They had already come up and were struggling through an almost impenetrable layer of kikuyu but I managed to lift them without any loss of shoots and they are now in these pots by the front steps.  I'll be surprised if they produce any flowers this year given their shocking treatment of late.  The snake bed now only contains a clump of blue agapanthus, a yellow daylily and a small clump of tiger lilies which are dormant at the minute and lost under the grass.  I will have a go at finding them if I can, will crowbar out the aggies and the daylily, then the snake bed will become part of the lawn again.

One of Mum's zygo cactus behind them, almost finished it's winter show.

Come back up the stairs and in through the front door and I'll show you my next project.

I have been given a quilt to quilt on my longarm machine.  I am really excited and really really nervous about doing it, I just so want it to turn out well.  It swirls around inside my brain morning, noon and night, will I do it this way, will I do it that way, I know I'm totalling overthinking it, but I'm very determined to master this craft.   I've even been doing online classes on Craftsy, which I've found really inspiring.

Here it is, not basted yet.  Bit of overload on the power point system in the corner?

And I bought myself this to save my busted ankle -

It's a drafting stool, so can be adjusted really high.  Various other gadgets, templates and rulers have also been purchased and ordered and the real work will begin shortly.

With lots of assistance from my two constant helpers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Disconnection . . .

I sit outside in the morning sun.  Warm morning sun for winter.  I sit on the edge of the front verandah, doing my knitting.

Sometimes I sit with my feet in the garden bed, as above.  Sometimes I sit with my back to the verandah post and my feet up on the verandah.  Either way, I struggle to inelegantly get back up on my feet - can only be done from a crawling position.

I sit like this, because the chairs are already taken.

In front of me and slightly to the left is DA Anne Boleyn.  With one large winter bloom -

dangling downwards on the spindliest stem you'd ever see.  No, actually it's not the spindliest, every one of my roses is spindly.  I hope it's because not many were given a haircut last year and are waiting for a good one this year.

I look at Anne Boleyn in disgust.

The violets are flowering along the path.

I resolve to dig out the standard Icebergs in the front garden and throw them on the next bonfire.

I have completely fallen out of love with my garden.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Autumn . . .

I had a gorgeous visitor to the garden a few days ago.

Lovely thing!  It spent ever so long flitting around the Hebe in the front garden bed.

Elsewhere in the garden, the jonquil bulbs are all coming up.

These are around the base of the buddleia alternifolia.  I swear I only planted four or five . . . I'm guessing they are multiplying and also that my random digging every now and then has moved them around a bit.

Life here at the moment looks like we are looking at it through a smoky lens.  Which indeed we are!  At this time of the year, we're allowed to burn off our garden/property rubbish.  And everyone is - even Mike turned into a pyromaniac this morning and sent up some smoke signals.

And on top of that, the authorities are doing official hazard reduction burns - read volunteer bush fire fighters having great fun burning stuff in the bush!

So our sunset today looked like this -

and our horizon looked like this -

Yesterday was my son's birthday.  And today was Mother's Day.  These two occurrences have gone hand in hand many times over the years - my baby was born fifty three minutes too late to arrive on Mother's Day thirty two years ago.  We had a big family lunch yesterday at The Mean Fiddler pub with many drinks and much fun.

This morning, for Mother's Day, Mike woke me up from a sleep-in with a pot of tea and a nice bit of crumpet.  

So I took a photo to remember it by -

Get your minds out of the gutter, you lot!!! :-)

Friday, April 26, 2013

ANZAC Day . . .

My sister wrote a lovely post on her blog yesterday about my family's rather unique connection with this Australian celebration.

At the risk of becoming far too personal and completely off the gardening subject, I'd like to show you a few more photos that we came across when researching our uncle at the time of making the website dedicated to him.

This was taken in 1908 -

and shows my Grandfather and Grandmother with their young family at that time.  Their eldest son sits at the left of the photo.  I get the feeling that he is holding firmly to the britches' waistband of his little brother beside him!

By 1915, this young man was quite the spiff.  He had his portrait taken just prior to signing his enlistment form and leaving his family for good.

Before he left, he apparently gave a copy of this photo to a number of young ladies that he knew!

By the time he was in France, his youngest brother, my dad, had arrived.  The next family photo we have was taken at Christmas, 1922.

That little blond urchin in the centre of the front row is indeed my dad.  And to the left of him is his sister Nell, whom we will farewell on Monday.  And behind her is the little brother whose britches were being held in the first photo.

My regret is that when all these folks were alive who would have remembered their eldest brother, that I was too young/not aware/not interested to ask about their memories of him.  I wish I had, I would love to have heard first hand about him.

Thank goodness for family members who have kept and preserved all these old photos.